Department of Languages and Cultures
In today's economic climate people often regard it as a luxury to study language and literature, but they overlook a number of very important factors.
German is one of the major European languages, being spoken very widely as a first and second language, or as a language of business throughout Europe. Germany itself is gaining influence in Europe since the opening up of Eastern Europe and the expansion of the European Union.
Because it belongs to the same language family as English it is easier for English-speakers to learn than many other languages. If you have not learnt a language before, it is a very good first foreign language. German culture has contributed greatly to the development of literature, science, philosophy, music and the visual arts in the English-speaking world, so that the study of German enhances the study of many other disiplines.
New Zealanders are associating increasingly with German speakers, since Germans, like New Zealanders, are inveterate travellers. Germans stay longer in New Zealand, travel more widely and spend more money here than any other tourist group. The need for German in the tourist sector and the opportunity to use it are growing rapidly.
Skills, abilities & characters of language graduates
Most students dream of the possibility of travelling abroad and being able to study in the country whose language they have been learning. Opportunities are there, and many Otago students of German have made the most of them. But it pays to plan ahead, since there are costs involved in terms of time and money.
Undergraduate Study Abroad
A growing trend among Otago students is to spend a period on exchange at an overseas university and there gain credit toward their Otago degree. The German Department allows students who gain credit for a course done at a German university to credit it to their degree here. To arrange a study abroad programme independently requires considerable initiative on the part of the student, but selection for the exchange programme Otago has with Heidelberg and Tübingen Universities makes it much easier. Exchange students also receive some financial aid from Otago University.
Postgraduate Study Abroad
There are a number of different scholarships offered by the German, Austrian and Swiss governments to New Zealand students. Most are for postgraduate study, i.e. for the equivalent of a PhD. degree. Generally speaking, a first-class honours degree is the prerequisite for the award of one of these. The scholarships are generous in monetary terms, so taking one up is really a question of planning one's academic future and acquiring the necessary grades. A surprising number of Otago graduates have successfully followed this path. The PhD degree can lead to a career in many different fields, which may or may not be directly related to the discipline of German.
Teaching Assistantships in Germany
Der Pädagogische Austauschdienst (PAD) offers teaching assistentships for graduates from New Zealand. For more information, have a look at their website or contact the Laura Matten at the German Embassy (04 47 60 63).
The DAAD also funds a short-term scholarship, the Deutschlandkundlicher Winterkurs, which is designed for students majoring in German and/ or other subjects, such as History, Politics, Law or Business, (and even Medicine), but who have taken at least two years German at university. Holders of the scholarship spend six weeks (January-February) at a German university. They take part in language classes, are given lectures on German culture and institutions and are taken on a variety of excursions, including one to Berlin.
Each year in October students can take the the Zertifikat Deutsch at level B1 (intermediate) or B2 (advanced intermediate). This certificate is internationally recognised and adminstered by the Goethe-Institut and the German Programme.